May 6, 2008

Treat and Retreat (were sitting in a boat?)

I forgot to tell you I was going on retreat! I left on Friday…I was feeling all spiritually clogged and barn sour and hatefully weepy and SO SO SO SORRY FOR MYSELF and I think it was sticking out EVERYWHERE. My best friend is being eaten by her children’s SPRING activity flood (as am I, best beloveds, as are all parents) and so we hadn’t talked in a couple of weeks. She called me and said , “WOW I CAN TELL FROM THE WORDS AROUND THE EDGES OF YOUR BLOG THAT YOU ARE ONE RUSH HOUR TRAFFIC AFTERNOON AWAY FROM HEADING UP TO THE TOP OF A WATER TOWER WITH AN OUZI! WHAT GIVES?”

And I was all, “OH! ‘Scuse me! Is my mental illness showing? Here, let me just tug my skirt down…” And so I tried, but I fast realized I didn’t have NEAR enough cloth. I would have needed a hoop skirt to rival Scarlet O’Hara’s at the BBQ to hide all of the FROTHY layers of lacey mental illness I’d wrapped around myself. “WAHHHHH I am a big fat hateful selfish cannibalistic failure with BAD HAIR WAHHHHH! Who is a sad! Sad! Panda? WHO? MEMEMEMMEME.” Like that.

So I headed off to a TV and traffic free woodland spot with a labyrinth and hiking trails down by the Chattahoochee River, and spent three days pretty much alternately marching around in the weeds and praying, and now I feel----retreated. Which is to say “significantly less crazy, with a firmer grasp on my actual priorities.”

The day before I left I thought, “I will go on retreat in the spirit of BABY BIRD! I will hunker down in a nest and scream and peep with an ENORMOUS OPEN BEAK and be stuffed with the worms of calmness and the worms of happiness and I will be given all good worms! ALL GOOD WORMS FOR ME!”

SO I went, and that first day, I was very weepy and stompy, and I missed my beautiful Television, and I missed my patient and beautiful husband, and I thought to myself, THIS IS USELESS! Where are my good worms??? I AM HOOTING AND PEEPING! I DEMAND THE GOOD WORMS! I came out here to the wilderness to find a TABLE in it. A BANQUET of sanity and grace spread just for me, and instead I found a table spread with ACTUAL WORMS, and NOT the kind that secretly mean peace, the damp squirmy kind…and here, you see, my baby bird and table in the wilderness metaphors met up and began breeding indiscriminately and had to be abandoned.

So Saturday morning I got up at 6 and put on my tennis shoes and went stomping down the trails with a map, like a moron. Because when it comes to choosing the correct fork while out hiking, a map is USELESS to me. I do not SPEAK map. I might as well take a bag of chicken bones and rattle them together and toss them to the earth and then see how they mystically fall to decide directions. Chicken bones, a map, magic 8 ball… same, same, all same.

But I took a map, and I headed into the woods.

Now you know I am not a beauty of the earth person. I know some people look at a sunset or a mountain or some flowers or whatever and they go OH! THE BEAUTY OF THE ERF! OHOHOH! And their eyes get misty and the wander off refreshed or whatever. Me? I say, “Dude. It’s a tree with some blooms on it, and come fall someone is going to have to RAKE that up when the tree poops it all off. Can we go watch TV now?”

But I AM an endorphin person. Hard physical work clears my head and makes me cheerful. SO! Armed with my map and a near psychotic level of optimism regarding my ability to use said map, I marked out a three mile course for myself. Then I put my head down and put my back into it. I am sure there were lots of lovely whatnots along the way, but I was looking at dirt and my feet so I could get a lot of speed without getting a lot of “falling onto my face and breaking it.” The trails were hilly and rooty – very satisfying, and soon I was tearing along them like a little steam engine, puff!puff!puff! very earnest.

A MIRACLE began to happen. Every time I STOPPED and checked the map, I was WHERE THE MAP SAID I SHOULD BE. It was BIZARRE! When the map said I would come to the river, I would come to the river. When the map said I would see the fork leading to the tent campgrounds, LO! There was a fork that led to the tent campgrounds. When the map said the labyrinth would be coming up on my left, THERE IT WAS! MAGICALLY ON THE LEFT! As if the WHOLE Labyrinth had grown centipede feet and creeped from where it USUALLY sat to wherever I was inevitably lost and plopped down just as I came around the corner as a gift to me.

THE GOOD WORMS! THE GOOD WORMS ON MY TABLE IN THE WILDERNESS! I crowed to myself, going even FASTER, and taking up my mis-mated metaphors again in the fervent heat of my delight.

And the whole thing was so VERY miraculous that I assumed it was Good Worms, and trusated it and put my head down, and stomped on trusting it, so that when I got to my last HALF mile, I came BACK to the same little rotty-looking plank bridge over a creek THREE times before I realized I was absolutely and hopelessly and finally rightly and justifiably Lost. As usual.

EEP – Must run! LATE. More tomorrow.

Posted by joshilyn at May 6, 2008 8:10 AM

Eep! is right. It's a FTK cliffhanger. Next thing we know, you'll be claiming that you were wearing PINK SOCKS on this hike, and we will never (and I do mean NEVER) hear the end of it.

Posted by: Aimee at May 6, 2008 10:36 AM

Ack! Why do you do this to us? You DO realize, don't you, that we're also left lost in the woods until you come back and finish this story and rescue us? Have pity, woman!

Posted by: Deborah P at May 6, 2008 10:38 AM

SORRY! I can only blog for 20 or 30 minutes until my brain is warm, and after that it becomes work and eats into the time I can spend on my novel.

Sock me no pink socks, I PINKY SWEARS the end will be up TOMORROW.


Posted by: joshilyn at May 6, 2008 10:42 AM

I say that she ran into a gnome warlock hiding under the bridge and she had to bubble and fear him until she could run away.

Posted by: Gary at May 6, 2008 11:30 AM

Ok, I'm waiting anxiously on the rest of the story, but I have to say you are a beautiful Wordsmith. Thank you.

Posted by: Kathy at May 6, 2008 11:42 AM

I am loving the verb "trusate." Also the verbs "bubble and fear."

Posted by: Cornelia Read at May 6, 2008 12:21 PM

Dude, if I could go retreat for three days I'm afraid I wouldn't even get out of bed. Good on ya, girl.

Posted by: Mir at May 6, 2008 1:20 PM

I like the cliffhangers.

Posted by: nik at May 6, 2008 3:28 PM

I'm a "beauty of the erf" person, but am, also, surprised and impressed when reality and geometry/ maps match up. Spatial relationships SO not my thing.

And I am totally on tenterhooks (whatever they might be - will probably have to Blackle them now) regarding whether the rotty-looking plank bridge led to more good worms or the slimy, icky kind.

Posted by: Diane (TT) at May 6, 2008 4:25 PM

I've been feeling the same way. But we're both Pisces. I wonder if there was some funky Saturn thing in our sign. ;-0

Posted by: Sabra at May 6, 2008 5:32 PM

I say she found a half-buried, half-full bottle of Irish whiskey in the matted leaves, so she sat down and had a few slugs until some nice Cabana Boy Scouts found her and carried her back to camp. Those are, of course, WAY different from regular Boy Scouts...

Posted by: Jill at May 8, 2008 1:55 PM

Confused... Were you saying that RD, Jr. was in Shakespeare in Love? Cause he wasn't. I can't think of anyone who was in S in L and also in Ironman. Sorry for the pickiness. I completely, totally agree with RD, Jr.'s awesomeness. He SHOULD have been in S in L.

Posted by: Carolie at May 11, 2008 11:06 AM

Gwyneth Paltrow is in Iron Man :)

Posted by: joshilyn at May 11, 2008 7:06 PM